A Black Santa? Who knew my local Rite Aid was so woke? Not just a white Christmas in my town of Huntington.
Just a few towns over from my blue-leaning village lies a nasty patch of Trump country, where the puffed-up Proud Boys have marched. If any of these white supremacist stooges had stopped into my Rite Aid, they most certainly would have been in a tizzy seeing their beloved All American Santa Claus portrayed as anything but white.
50 Shades of Santa
The great debate about the color of Santa makes me wonder- if that all-time Christmas classic “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” could be written by Irving Berlin, a Jew, who’s to say what color Santa actually is?
I say why not 50 shades of Santa?
Who can forget when Fox newscaster Megyn Kelly not only confirmed that Santa was white but on the same show she announced “Jesus was a white man too…I mean, he was an historical figure, that was a verifiable fact, as is Santa…I just wanted the kids watching to know that.”
Verified by who? Coca Cola?
Spoiler alert- Santa isn’t real!
This historical figure is a figure of our imagination, commercialized by the Mad Men of Madison Avenue for generations to hawk products ranging from kitchenware to toys.
If we really want to get historical, here are the facts m’am.
I’m Dreaming of a Non White Santa
The truth is jolly, pink-cheeked Santa Claus may not even be white! And no, you are not dreaming.
The fact is that the man St. Nicholas ( Santa Claus) was based on, is from the middle east. Just like another Christmas icon.
The original Santa Claus was St Nicholas an early Christian Bishop born around 280 in Patara, Lycia what is now modern-day Turkey.
Nor was he portly, but he did sport a white beard, helped children, and was known for his secret gift-giving. Admired for his kindness, as Bishop of Myra he gave away his inherited wealth anonymously and traveled the countryside helping the poor and the sick.
His popularity spread.
In one famous act of generosity, he secretly tossed bags of gold through a poor family’s window to provide doweries so the three daughters could find husbands instead of being sold to slavery. As legend has it at least one of the bags landed in a stocking hung up to dry by the fireplace which is why kids hang stockings on Christmas to be filled with gifts.
When he died on December 6, 343 he was declared a Saint. Children celebrated the anniversary of his death by leaving out gifts for his white horse before they went to bed on December 5. When they woke up they were rewarded with sweets that the Saint had left behind.
Sailors carried these stories about St. Nicholas in their travels to distant lands and by the Renaissance, S. Nicholas was the most popular Saint in Europe, especially Holland.
When the Dutch settled in America St Nicholas fame took off. He entered American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century when Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of his death. The name Santa Claus evolved from St Nicholas Dutch nickname Sinter Klass, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas. The named morphed into Santa Claus over the 17th and 18th century.
End of history lesson.
Jesus Christ Super Star
As far as that other historical figure, Jesus Christ, his oft-time portrayal as a blue-eyed blonde is as fictitious as jolly old Santa, white or black.
It is quite doubtful that Jesus looked like he was of Nordic descent.
Jesus was born to a Jewish family in the Middle East, and most scholars agree that he most likely looked like what folks of Middle Eastern decent look like.
Color Me Tolerant
Perhaps the best solution to that would be to color Jesus in whatever color you wish and everyone will be happy.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
We had one of those “Children’s Bibles” with the blonde Jesus & I remember looking at him & thinking, This is NOT right … even as a little kid, I knew that Jesus wasn’t a BLONDE.
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Smart cookie! Of course in the 1950’s, 60’s all the popular people were cast as blonde ( after all blonds had more fun!) There was no thought to actual origin. Jesus looked like a Swedish model.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_of_Christ Warner Sallman’s head of Christ painting was a familiar one in my church when I was growing up in the 1950’s. It’s still there. He did a lot to create this Aryan image of Christ that goes against all logical depictions of this Jewish rabbi from the Middle East.
Sally, well done. Jesus is almost always portrayed with Anglo-Saxon features, whether it is Max von Sydow or Jeffrey Hunter. Jesus lived in the Middle East, so he would look like the folks of that region. If Jesus walked into the wrong bar in some areas of the US, he may not be as welcomed as his reputation would warrant. Of course, this would not be unusual for him as he spent most of his human life hanging out with the disenfranchised, so the Jewish or community leaders did not cotton to the young Rabbi. Keith